If you are reading this story, chances are you may remember that hurricane “Lane,” a major category five superstorm, was “barreling” toward our islands in late August (last week) as I write this.
Over the years I have personally experienced four major hurricanes and a typhoon or two thrown in for good measure, so I know what 140-knot winds and torrential rain feel like outside my home. I’m also aware of the devastation big storms can cause.
In some locations other than Hawai’i, before a large storm, I have witnessed people panic buying, fighting over water, generators, plywood and gas cans. That is if you could find gas for the can in the first place. Keep in mind, these storms occurred and will continue to happen where you could, with a little forethought, quickly gather what you need, get in your car and leave.
The people of the Hawaiian Islands have experienced several significant hurricanes throughout history, but considerable damage from the storms is somewhat rare. As a result, admittedly there is a certain amount of complacency here concerning hurricanes, even when living on the most remote island chain in the world.
What makes Hawai’i unique is how the islands’ residents react and come together as one big ohana (family) during events like these, be it a hurricane or a volcano doing what volcanos sometimes do.
I have never personally witnessed panic or greed by locals; store shelves remain mostly stocked, gas stations open and doing business in a calm and friendly way as usual.
People here (or Maui at least) are generally prepared or may grab a last-minute item (Heineken) or two, and unlike mainland news coverage, most people here took the storm in stride and took advantage of the time off.
The day before this last storm, and at the market down the street, it honestly felt like the night before Christmas in an odd way. Sure, there may have been a few more people in the parking lot, and the check-out line had more than three people in it, but everybody was happy, smiling and joking with friends, neighbors or family they may not have seen for a while.
Instead of fear and panic, there was a sense of calm and happiness, more like Christmas Eve, relaxing with friends and loved ones. When I got back home from the store that day, I could start to smell a neighbor cooking Kalua pork and hear Gabby Pahinui’s music playing softly in the background.
It is times like these that are a reminder that the people and the culture of Hawai’i are exceptional, and how incredibly blessed we are to live on these Islands of Aloha.
Maybe it’s just me, but there will always be something special about the smell of Kalua pork or Huli Huli chicken cooking on the grill that reminds me of my home, the holidays, birthdays, graduation parties, and even a hurricane now and then.